Local residents of Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are reporting that Chinese Coast Guard vessels have been maintaining regular presence in an area very close to the Philippine-held island.

A source from the municipality of Kalayaan who asked not to be named said that the proximity of the Chinese vessels, which they estimate to be just around two kilometers off Pag-asa and very close to their breakwaters, has rattled civilian officials into reviewing the municipality’s established contingency plans in case of a possible security breach.

Such review, the source said, was particularly triggered by repeated incidents of loud noise being heard in Pag-asa coming from the Chinese vessels, which they said sounded like firing of artillery shots.

“Ang lapit na nila masyado. Yong mga blasts na naririnig, nakakadagdag pa. Hindi naman sa natatakot, pero ano yon? Ramdam namin ang tremor,” the source said.

“Sana pagtuunan nila ito ng pansin kasi concerned din ang mga tao,” he said, adding this should be protested by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The source provided Palawan News video clips taken from Pag-asa showing the short distance of the CCG vessels to the island.

A voice behind the video can be heard saying: “Pambihira yan na ang China… ito na sa breaker. Yan na, o.”

Kalayaan issued an official statement on Monday stating that the situation in Pag-asa is “business as usual”.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.